Killer's Kiss ★★★

A Year of Film History Challenge
(watching a little bit of film history month by month, decade by decade)
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One thing Killer's Kiss really drove home for me is how crucial the music is to the films of Stanley Kubrick. Despite being beautifully shot and with moody noir lighting, the movie is frequently pulled back from the fateful and brooding territory that was Kubrick's wheelhouse by Gerald Fried's peppy and repetitive 50's score. It's clear enough how important Kubrick feels the music is to his production, but unlike the camera, it's just not a tool he's adept with yet.

There's still skill in a lot of other areas though. Kubrick gets to do the boxing match from his short subject documentary Day of the Fight the way I imagine he wanted to, if he'd actually had a budget and could interrupt the match or put the camera wherever worked best. There's also plenty of scenes that beautifully capture the New York City of the early 50s that was the playground of Jack Kerouac and Lenny Bruce and so many others. It's a good-looking film through and through, but with the incongruous soundtrack, awkward and inconsistent narration, and start-and-stop pacing, the film just doesn't have the same solid build and crescendo that would become a reliable part of Kubrick's filmography from his next film (The Killing) onward. A film filled with artistic potential from a developing auteur--and a huge step up from his debut film Fear & Desire--but the fully-developed signature style of Kubrick is still yet to come.

...and at last I've seen every film short and long by Stanley Kubrick! Considering how long he's been my favorite it's ridiculous how long that took.

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